Indian company Larsen Toubro (L&T) will produce the gun in collaboration with a foreign partner. The project for 100 guns will cost around Rs 4,200 crore. Deliveries will be completed within three years. The gun, “K-9 Vajra-T”, is a 155-mm/52-calibre self-propelled howitzer.
It can hit targets at a distance of 45 km. Its specialty will be tank-type tracks to move as support firing with the armoured columns. The Ministry of Defence and the Army had completed the evaluation process of the L&T gun and other guns in September 2015 and bids were opened in December that year.
This will be the second major artillery gun programme approved in the past two years. In June last year, the MoD approved the letter of acceptance for US supplier, BAE Systems, for 145 ultra-light howitzers (ULH) of the 155 mm variety. The ULH was the first formal deal for the 155-mm gun since March 1986 when 400 pieces were purchased from Swedish company AB Bofors for Rs 1,500 crore.
The Army’s Field Artillery Rationalisation Plan, drawn up in 1999, talks of acquiring 2,800 guns by 2027. It talks about 155 mm guns of all kinds — 1580 towed guns, 814 truck-mounted guns, 100 tracked self-propelled guns,180 wheeled self-propelled guns and 145 ultralight howitzers.